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The Maltings was built in the mid19th century and was once one of the largest barley maltings in Suffolk.
The countryside here is highly characteristic of the AONB: an intimate mosaic of wetland, woodland, farmland and heath that makes the area so special.
What am I looking at?
Here the River Alde flows through a wide, barely discernible valley. The higher ground on either side of the river is part of the Sandlings plateau, a narrow band of light, sandy soil that runs roughly north-south from Southwold to the eastern fringe of Ipswich.
On the river’s banks, mudflats form where silt and clay sediments settle. Mudflats’ distinctive smell (like rotten eggs!) comes from bacteria that lives in the mud being exposed during low tide.
Here, saltmarsh develops closer to dry land, providing essential flood protection and improving carbon storage.
Reedbeds can be seen either side of the river and are found in the zone between water and land, they are transitional habitats that are thickly vegetated yet waterlogged.
What lives here?
During low tide the exposed mudflats are home to millions of tiny creatures which are an essential food source for many wading birds.
Within a salt marsh, plants like glasswort and salicornia grow at the uppermost edges of the marsh where they’re exposed to salt water for a shorter time during high tide.
Waders like curlews, egrets, avocets, bitterns can be seen, especially at low tide when mudflats are exposed for foraging. Marsh harriers are also commonly spotted scanning the reedbeds for prey. Mammals like otters and water voles also live along the watercourses.
Snape Maltings is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar wetland site, denoting its national and European importance.
It was located at the head of the estuary as barges were able to navigate as far as Snape, providing easy transportation in an era before road transport. Since its closure as a maltings in 1965, the site has developed into a unique art, leisure and shopping complex.
Walks and more
Snape Maltings marks the start of the ‘Sailor’s Path’, a 9.5km route towards Aldeburgh on well-surfaced paths and tracks. You can find out more about this and other shorter walks via our website.